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The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed a rare criminal contempt of court legal action against a Chicago building owner for failing to comply with ongoing court-ordered safety requirements in the apartment building that he owned where a man died in a fire in 2012.

A petition for Criminal Contempt of Court has been filed against Adolfo Lopez, 57, of the 4700 block of South Karlov, who owns the two-flat apartment building at 1645 N. Central Park in Chicago where the fatal fire occurred.  Prior to the fire Lopez had failed to comply with several court orders issued over the course of more than three years, including one specifically directing him to keep the attic and basement units free of occupants.

During the early morning hours of Oct. 27, 2012, an electronic space heater in the attic of the building ignited nearby bedding material and caused a fire, which claimed the life of 42-year-old Jaime Martinez.  At the time of the fire, Martinez was living in the attic with several other people, which violated the terms of multiple court orders instructing Lopez to keep the basement and the attic of the building vacant.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said that while it is rare for her office to pursue criminal contempt of court, the facts in this case and the loss of life warrant criminal action.

“This is a terrible tragedy that should and could have been prevented had this landlord complied with the order of the court.  Given this man’s senseless death we feel strongly that a criminal sanction is required and is appropriate in this case,” Alvarez said.

Cook County Judge Paul Biebel set bond for Lopez at $25,000 during a hearing today at the George Leighton Criminal Courts building in Chicago.  The next date for the case is October 22.

The City of Chicago originally filed a complaint against Lopez in December of 2007, when it was discovered that he had illegally modified the building in order to house more tenants.  According to prosecutors, the building had originally been constructed as a two-flat dwelling but had been illegally converted to nine living units.  As a result of the illegal conversion, rooms that were intended to be individually rented out by Lopez in the attic and basement of the building were without windows, sufficient exits and without adequate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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